Kindergarten: It Really Matters

July 28th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  3 Comments

Front page of the Times today reports an “explosive” study from the world of education: that a good kindergarten teacher appears to make a huge difference in a child’s life, in everything from future family life to adult income. I have to admit, I’m skeptical, at least until I see more about the study’s methodology. From the Times capsule description (and we in the profession certainly know how imprecise journalistic shorthand for anything scientific can be), it appears that the study is only somewhat able to control for economic and other conditions at a child’s home. Right there, you’ve gotta wonder.

But even if it’s only semi-plausible, it comes at a time when teaching, as a profession, is under assault. As my colleague Bob Kolker smartly noted two weeks ago, we’ve taken to demonizing teachers these days, in particular when it comes to their opinions on education reform. This will almost certainly accelerate over the next couple of years, as state budgets are cut and the unions howl, and as Obama tries to re-reform No Child Left Behind. And it is sure to affect thinking about universal pre-K, a Dadwagon hobbyhorse about which you can read more here.

Anyone got an life-changing-kindergarten-teacher story for us? Comments are, as always, open and waiting.


  1. vodkamom says:

    July 28th, 2010at 1:03 pm(#)

    My life changes EVERY day in kindergarten. And frankly, it’s the best job in the WORLD.

    I adore them- and they grow leaps and bounds every single day.

    And so do I.

  2. Marty says:

    July 28th, 2010at 1:45 pm(#)

    I changed kindergarten classes when I was a kid (we moved) and it went from a bad experience to a great one that taught me a lot. Did it change my life? Likely not. I suspect this article is more the over reaction to early childhood education that seems to be en vogue in NYC.

    Next they’ll print a story telling us that if you don’t get the right pre-school you’ll end up a vagrant. While I’m sure a good kindergarten experience is important for kids, let’s not blow it all out of proportion.

    We should take care of teachers and care about our kids’ education but not worry so much about everything.

  3. Carly says:

    July 28th, 2010at 9:49 pm(#)

    The article is referring to (without directly referencing for some reason) a lot of studies that for many years have shown quality preschool can mitigate some of the disadvantages of poverty. It is not about pushy, wealthy New Yorkers, this time.

    In fact, most of the positive effects have been seen in kids from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. So, quality early childhood education is actually not about having organic snacks and City and Country approved blocks. It seems to be about having teachers that don’t yell, don’t hit, keep coming to work most of the year, understand child development, understand preliteracy, have the advantage of small class size and ample resources, and other basics that cost more than the average preschool teacher pay of $8/hr.

    The study is notable because it measured things that had more to do with social fluency (and upward mobility) than test scores, and on those measures quality kindergarten had huge impact. As an aside, I still hope one day we can escape from ‘attending college’ as a marker or metonym for ‘life success.’

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